Poetry is a funny thing. I don't read a lot of it, and most of the time it remains elusive and hidden from all understanding. I have had better luck rPoetry is a funny thing. I don't read a lot of it, and most of the time it remains elusive and hidden from all understanding. I have had better luck recently, and clearly when a poem hits me, it hits me hard.
Coleridge. The language (which, admittedly, takes a bit of effort) has a rhythm that swallows you into the depth of the rumbling sea and covers you with the smell of salt. It sweeps you off your feet and makes you feel the weight of the albatross around your neck. The melody dances with the sea creatures and good spirits. When the sailors rise, it's time to go home, but the eeriness of the moment promises no happy ending. A ghost ship drenched in a slimy pale green colour is what I envisioned. A little too well for a 2am reading session.
What about the meaning of this all then? There are some obvious interpretations (one of them could not be spelled out more clearly at the end), and which one you choose might depend the most on what the poem makes you feel. I'd personally leave out the "albatross represents Christ" -thing altogether, because it ignores the overwhelming presence of nature.
I guess the conclusion we can draw from this is that I tend to be awestruck by poetry that moves me with its use of language and imagery, instead of being overly closed by metaphors and such....more
Anyone who browses my GR shelves won't fail to notice my love of classic cinema. The 250 Quintessential Noir Films -list in iCheckMovies is currentlyAnyone who browses my GR shelves won't fail to notice my love of classic cinema. The 250 Quintessential Noir Films -list in iCheckMovies is currently my life blood, so obviously I shrieked from joy when a blogger I follow recommended a film noir-inspired comic (she was actually used as a model for one of the characters, which is pretty neat). When the protagonist wakes up in a bath tub after a hard night of partying and finds a dead starlet in the living room, there's no doubt that you're in for a fun ride.
It was immediately clear that the authors have captured the genre's tone with incredible precision. A research assistant helped in maintaining the authenticity of 1940s L.A. with its twinkling lights, orange sunsets, and seedy back alleys, but reading the afterwords of each issue there's no doubt that the authors' enthusiasm for classic films and listening to 40s music while working helped a great deal as well.
Reading the comic is like following a movie: the voice-over à la Sunset Boulevard (1950), the rhythm of the text, and dialogue make up a very addicting mixture. When you combine all that with excellent art that plays with light and shadows like the best film noirs do, you get perfection. The art also has varying styles: some scenes depict vague memories as hazy forms surrounded by cigarette smoke, and some have the protagonist juxtaposed with a b&w background. These lend the story a sense of mystery and ambiguity, especially since the story appears to have a lot of subtlety. Because of that this will definitely handle multiple reads in the future.
On the other hand, the characters are believable in their noir surroundings. There are the usual archetypes of noir and hard-boiled fiction, but they don't feel at all clichéd or worn out. They might have been if the protanogist had been a private detective, but because he's a screenwriter the story immediately has more appeal. Some of the peripheral characters remind you of real people: the German expatriate director, the Montgomery Clift -look-a-like Tyler Graves etc. Even a few very real people make an appearance: Clark Gable's entrance came hilariously out of nowhere, Humphrey Bogart seems to pop up everywhere you go, and Bette Davis is mentioned as almost stabbing a creep with a nail file (makes total sense).
The articles at the end of each issue are also worth the read, despite that some of the topics have been dealt with millions of times before: Peg Entwistle, Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Lana Turner vs. Johnny Stompanato, Jean Spangler, James Stewart, and Our Gang are all sharp peeks to the world of Tinseltown. For once I read the reader letters as well. Lots of great film and tv recommendations, and all coming from people who are passionate about old films....more
A beautiful and decadent Russian princess with a scandalous past, a fog that engulfs everything, a murder, an explorer believed to have died in AfricaA beautiful and decadent Russian princess with a scandalous past, a fog that engulfs everything, a murder, an explorer believed to have died in Africa returns to London... There's basically everything you need for a fun tale of mystery. The plot seems simple at first, but at the end there's a twist, and even after the conclusion the story spins once more. The first chapter's description of being lost in a fog is great, slightly oppressive, which alone would elevate the story even if the mystery itself wasn't good. A great bedtime story, actually....more
The disappointment... I understand the point of the story. The exploration of Victorian double standards etc. The descriptions of the countryside areThe disappointment... I understand the point of the story. The exploration of Victorian double standards etc. The descriptions of the countryside are nice, but nothing spectacular. The ambiguity of some scenes have almost a mystical quality, and I always appreciate subtlety.
However, the way Hardy deals with the character of Tess is uncomfortable. He has an obsession with Tess's beauty (describes her looks far too often; we get it, she has a lovely face) and makes the point of women being the fairer and more noble sex several times.
Hardy's way of examining the Victorian mores and fatalism through a female martyr is off-putting. He uses Tess as a mere tool, and doing so he fails to make her a convincing and compelling character. She carries her guilt through her entire life, but it's just all too much. Hardy hits you in the head over and over again with misery, so instead of feeling depressed or sorry for Tess I couldn't care less about anything that happened.
Wuthering Heights is full of darkness, but at least it's executed more smoothly and atmospherically. Tess is just kicked around and she ends up shedding all her character, becoming almost a caricature. She's the ultimate pure woman of the 19th century, but Hardy seems to enjoy a bit too much showing us the purity. Tess drags herself from one event to the other, but never did I feel the actual connection between her and what Hardy was trying to say.
Everything about this book is obvious, heavy-handed, and contrived. I never shy away from depressing stuff, but when a message is jammed down my throat (often at the expense of the characters) I become strongly averse to the whole story. The same happened with 1984. Nor am I the kind of person who rates a book low because I don't like the characters. Hardy tries to build a halo around Tess and treats the story as a fatalistic string of tragic events, so Tess is not really unlikeable but very hollow. I don't dislike her per se, but instead I dislike how she's fleshed out.
I can just imagine Hardy sitting at his table and thinking: "Alrighty then, let's make this as glum as possible, so even the dumbest ones will see the shitty situation of women in my time".
Fortunately, there's one thing that I can take from this: sexual encounters still mean different things with men and women. There are still far too many who uphold these double standards. There's for example a certain type of man who sleeps around until he can find the perfect woman to be his wife. At the same time he claims that the women he hooks up with in bars are just promiscuous dummies and good for nothing but one night stands (even though they have no idea how many partners the women have had), and his future wife should be pure and innocent without a huge sexual past (but it's ok for a man to have one). Ah, the good ol' madonna-whore dichotomy!
You have to be blind if you don't see the relevance of Tess with modern society....more
Kuopion satamassa vilisee. On se aika vuodesta, jolloin tuoreet ylioppilaat lähtevät kohti uusia seikkailuja, ja Antti Ljunberg on yksi heistä. HössötKuopion satamassa vilisee. On se aika vuodesta, jolloin tuoreet ylioppilaat lähtevät kohti uusia seikkailuja, ja Antti Ljunberg on yksi heistä. Hössöttävä äiti yrittää parhaansa mukaan huolehtia vielä viimeisen kerran pojastaan ja tämän vaatetuksesta, mutta sillä hetkellä kun Antti astuu laivaan alkaa uudenlainen elämä.
Aho kuvaa vähäeleisesti mutta tehokkaasti humalaista välietappia, joka lipuu kodin ja Helsingin opiskelijaelämän välillä. Antti uhkuu nuoruudenintoa, mutta itsevarmuus osoittautuu laadultaan pinnalliseksi, kun isän mielipide maakauppiaista on otettu kritiikittömästi vastaan ja laivalla mallia yritetään ottaa milloin kenestäkin Antin mielestä tyylikkäästä herrasmiehestä, koska "hän tahtoo näyttää, ettei hän ole nuori eikä kokematon". Naistenkaan kanssa Antti ei tule toimeen ihan niin kuin oli ajatellut, vaikka lapsellisesti kuvitteleekin itsensä Don Juaniksi. Entisestä elämästä on vakaa halu irroittautua, mutta jostain syvältä kumpuaa toisinaan ajatus siitä, mitä perhe kotipuolessa mahtaakaan juuri sillä hetkellä tehdä.
Antin vastakohdaksi päätyy Pekka, joka viinan sijaan juo maitoa ja on muutenkin hyvin pragmaattisen sekä varovaisen lukutoukan oloinen. Pekka hoivaa krapulaista Anttia, mutta Pekan kunnollisuus selvästi tuntuu Antista ainoastaan painolta, joka raahautuu uusista kokemuksista innostuneen nuoren perässä. Leppoisa ja helppo elämäkin vaikuttaa olevan Antin mieleen: "[h]äneen olisi tehnyt vastenmielisen vaikutuksen, jos sohva ei olisi ollut näin siististä sametista ja joka messinkiesine noin kirkkaaksi kiilloitettu". Horisontissa siintävät lokoisat kesälomat hienossa kartanossa. Antin yritykset esittää jotain muuta on ajoittain epämiellyttävää, mutta antaa romaanille monikerroksisemmat puitteet.
Siinä missä Yksin (1890) -romaanissa Aho kuvasi herkästi erään nuorukaisen kulkua Pariisissa, Helsinkiin tuntuu ehkä vieläkin modernimmalta. Ruotsalaisten ja suomalaisten erot ovat tapetilla laivan pöydän ääressä (esim. suomalaisten soveltumattomuus virkamiesaloille), josta päästään siihen, miten ylioppilaiden velkaantuminen ja höllä moraali puhuttavat, ja miten Suomessa pitäisi opiskella enemmän käytännön miehiksi kuin virkamiehiksi. Opintolainat, juhliminen, ja ylikouluttautuminen. Kuulostaako tutulta?
Epävarmuus, vapaudenkaipuu, "merenkäyntiä tyynessä vedessä"... Ahon tarkkanäköisyys ja taito päästä nuoren ylioppilaan nahkoihin on ihailtavaa. Joihinkin asioihin voi samaistua itsekin, kuten siihen miten ylioppilaaksi pääsy oli erään vaiheen päätös, mutta konkreettisesti olo ei tuntunut erikoisemmalta kuin muutoinkaan, eikä kukaan (onneksi) kohdellut jotenkin parempana ihmisenä. Antin kova hinku itsenäistyä on ymmärrettävää, koska onhan siinä oma hohtonsa kun pääsee lapsuudenkodista aloittamaan uudenlaista vaihetta elämässä.
Romaanin huumaava tunnelma on tarttuvaa. Antin saavutettua vihdoin Helsingin punaiset lyhdyt ja juhlien jatkuttua yömyöhään, jää viimeisistä sanoista haikea mieli. Miten meidän nuorelle ylioppilaallemme käy? Saavuttaako hän kaiken haluamansa vai sekoittavatko kaupungin huvitukset pään?
"Poskia lämmitti, ja jäsenet kävivät suloisen raukeiksi. Oli mahdottoman mukavaa tällä tavalla puhallella hienoa sikarinsavua ylös kattoon ja katsella, kuinka sen sitten avonainen ikkuna yhdellä henkäyksellä riipaisi pyöreään kitaansa...
...Hän on merenkulkija maailman aavalla valtamerellä. Hän on ja elää, nauttii nuoruudestaan eikä mistään huoli. Ei sillä väliä, mihin laiva laskee. Aina niitä on keulan edessä päinvänpaisteisia rantoja. Ja vähät siitä, vaikka karillekin kurahtaisi ja laiva hajoaisi pieniksi pirstaleiksi. Tottahan löytyisi joku tyhjä tynnyri hänellekin, jonka päällä kulkea kelluttelisi, mihin myötäinen tuuli puhaltelisi. Ihmisten pitäisi jo nuorina antautua onnensa ohjattaviksi! Mennä vain! Huilata huolimatta mistään!—"...more
Just as fun as the first one, although for some reason it took me a while to get into the story, so I let the book rest a few days. The further I readJust as fun as the first one, although for some reason it took me a while to get into the story, so I let the book rest a few days. The further I read, the more addictive it became.
I loved the snarky exchange of words between (view spoiler)[Amelia and Emerson (hide spoiler)], and I was happy to see that their personalities hadn't changed one bit, but that they could still spar with each other despite the situation changing. People like them can seem a bit hard, though, but there were moments where their hard exteriors melted and they seemed more human. Not that they didn't seem human before, but now there were more faults visible as well, like with real human beings. It was pretty obvious, too, that Amelia wouldn't settle into tea parties. The way she appears next to the ridiculous Lady Baskerville, who's constantly fainting out of shock like your typical romance heroine, would make anyone want to escape with Amelia to the dusty digs.
The characters were more interesting this time around, especially the insane Madame Berengeria, who loved her bottle a bit too much and dressed like ancient Egyptians. Bigger bunch of people also meant there were more choices for the murderer, and although the identity wasn't a complete shock, I wasn't disappointed either. Peters handled the twists and turns with style.
There's a cat, too!
Ok, that was a bit random, but Bastet deserves a mention.
All in all, I liked the sense of adventure. I can't give four stars, because I still feel there's something missing, but for certain situations these are perfect light mysteries, and I'd love to know where Amelia ends up next.
"Bucolic peace is not my ambience, and the giving of tea parties is by no means my favorite amusement. In fact, I would prefer to be pursued across the desert by a band of savage Dervishes brandishing spears and howling for my blood. I would rather be chased up a tree by a mad dog, or face a mummy risen from its grave. I would rather be threatened by knives, pistols, poisonous snakes, and the curse of a long-dead king."["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The popularizer of cocktails in the United States, Jerry Thomas is also known for his flashy style and showmanship (I strongly recommend reading the NThe popularizer of cocktails in the United States, Jerry Thomas is also known for his flashy style and showmanship (I strongly recommend reading the New York Times article about Thomas's influence). I'm not interested in the technical aspect of cocktails that much, or trying out my mixology skills, but I've recently started thinking about developing my cocktail taste buds, and a part of that journey might include trying out drinks at home. A couple of weeks ago I heard about The Nightjar, and speakeasy type of places are of course a must visit for a 20s lover.
I figured I'd try Thomas's book to establish myself a some sort of base of cocktail history, but I ended up getting so much more. The measurements are vague (dashes, wineglasses etc.), but I kind of like that. I usually follow food recipes neurotically, but when it comes to drinks and punches I don't really care how much ingredients there are, as long as the end result tastes good and is kind of what it's supposed to be.
Thomas has not only included recipes for individual drinks, but also for parties and bottling purposes, and the directions for making the syrups and tinctures needed in the drinks. The names of drinks were already fun back then, at least when bartenders started to experiment a bit more instead of just throwing sugar into brandy, gin, or whiskey. Philadelphia Fish-House Punch, Bimbo Punch, Sleeper, White Tiger's Milk, Locomotive etc. One should not forget the temperance drinks either, although I highly doubt you would find Thomas's book on those folks' bookshelf.
Fun details are scattered throughout: the recipe for Quince Liqueur was apparently given to Thomas by some mysterious lady ("This is a delightful liqueur, and can be relied upon, as it is from a recipe in the possession of a lady who is famous for concocting delicious potations."), Royal Punch includes calf-foot jelly (yummy!), the English drinks "have not yielded the satisfaction expected or desired", and the mint juleps were apparently taken seriously in the south ("[W]e have knowledge of several old-fashioned gardens where the mint bed under the southern wall still blooms luxuriantly ; where white fingers of household angels come every day about this time of the year and pluck a few sprays of the aromatic herb to build a julep for poor old shaky grandpa, who sits in the shady corner of the veranda with his feet on the rail and his head busy with the olden days.").
I'd imagine this to be useful in the future, but until I get around buying the paper copy, I'll just browse the online version. The drinks that grabbed my attention on the first read: Brandy Cocktail, Saratoga, Morning Glory, Brandy Daisy, Santa Cruz Rum Daisy, Mint Julep, Pineapple Julep, Knickerbocker, and West India Couperee (ice cream!)....more
"A young man in one’s hotel bedroom is capable of being explained, but a corpse is always a hindrance."
Is there a better way to return to reading and"A young man in one’s hotel bedroom is capable of being explained, but a corpse is always a hindrance."
Is there a better way to return to reading and reviewing than write about a light, bubbly, vibrant, and sparkly mystery? When my studies calmed down a bit and my brain began to miss fiction, I started a ridiculously long classic, but then I noticed a book whose blurb made my heart beat a little bit faster. A detective story that is set in the roaring twenties and whose main character is a bold and unconstrained female private detective, can't be bad. Am I right?
My expectations turned out to be reasonable. Phryne is the soul of the book. Whenever you start a new series, you want to make sure that you like the main character who carries the weight of the story, so that you're interested enough to continue with the series. Phryne Fisher carries herself with style and enjoys the luxuries of life, but isn't arrogant or afraid to get her hands dirty in seedy back alleys. This unabashed and clever adventuress, who enjoys cigarettes and - quelle horreur! - sex, exists in an entirely different sphere than the rest of the characters. Especially the squeaky clean maid Dorothy seems puny next to her mistress, even though she does find courage in the end when things become dangerous.
On the other hand, the plot itself didn't have the spark I was hoping for. One important identity was easy to guess about halfway through, because Greenwood's hint is pretty heavyhanded. Not knowing Melbourne, I also couldn't pinpoint the events to Australia, because it seemed like any metropolitan city would have been the location, which of course is a shame since Australia is an interesting country. The endless descriptions of Phryne's dresses just radiated iffy chick lit vibes.
Although the fluffiness wasn't entirely my thing and occasionally style moved ahead of substance, I believe I could continue with the series if I ever need something that wouldn't require any brain activity. Based on this first installment the series might potentionally be addictive, and because of that extra that the 20s brings to the plate, things could be worse. Greenwood's writing style has the kind of perkiness and sharpness which in the end makes reading fun, and that's what you want from a cozy mystery. If, however, I don't feel like reading the whole series, there's the tv show that I'm going to check out at some point. Maybe I'll make those cucumber sandwiches and cocktails as seen on Phryne's website to get in the mood....more
Evokes gothic atmosphere maybe with three sentences overall (the first chapter is alright). Varney's interesting in theory, as he's a sympathetic vampEvokes gothic atmosphere maybe with three sentences overall (the first chapter is alright). Varney's interesting in theory, as he's a sympathetic vampire and by far the only character who actually has a soul (ha!). The others are like cardboard cutouts. Not that there seems to be any logic to the story itself, anyway. Rymer either forgot every once in a while what his book was about, or he was so broke that he absolutely had to bloat the text by every means necessary, including ministories here and there that have no bearing on the story whatsoever. A hack writer if there ever was one. Or maybe he just stopped giving a flying fuck.
Would I pay a penny for each installment? Hell no. I knew this would be bad, being a penny dreadful and all, but I didn't expect an exhausting bore. So much so, that it wasn't even funny anymore....more